Students living in Whistle Bend may find themselves learning a new bus schedule ahead of the new school year.
The proposed plans that would see six City of Whitehorse bus stops — including one at the Whistle Bend Care Facility — added to the neighbourhood with buses arriving on an hourly basis through the week and on Saturdays.
The additional plans for the neighbourhood is one of the first steps in the city’s effort to “modernize” its bus system. The effort comes from the city’s 2018 transit master plan.
Jason Bradshaw, the city’s transit manager, outlined the plans at a council and administrative roundtable session July 15, noting the Whistle Bend neighbourhood has been under served for awhile and officials are aiming to have the additional stops and new schedule in place before most schools in the city open their doors to students on Aug. 23.
Currently, Whistle Bend has just a couple of stops on a route that runs hourly beginning at 7:10 a.m. until 7:10 p.m. Monday to Friday. It does not have Saturday service, as other neighbourhoods have.
Saturday service would be added under the changes proposed to take effect this year.
Bradshaw noted the changes to the Whistle Bend are part of a slew of changes that are anticipated to be phased in over the coming years. Route and scheduling changes are also anticipated with the city expecting to eliminate some routes that have low ridership in favour of a home-to-hub service provided to customers in areas where they would call for a ride to the nearest transit hub.
Two major transfer points at the Canada Games Centre and Yukon University would be established along with other changes.
While the Whistle Bend changes are expected to cost $8,000 in 2021, in the coming years all of the changes are anticipated to cost approximately $240,000, including the cost of hiring more transit drivers.
Coun. Laura Cabott described the transit plans for Whistle Bend as “a good move.”
Meanwhile, Coun. Steve Roddick asked about bus benches and the like, noting the importance of having it in place when new schedules come into effect.
Bradshaw said the plans would see the infrastructure for Whistle Bend put in place before the changes come into effect.
Roddick stressed his support towards investing more in transit.
Along with changes in the Whistle Bend route, transit users may be making use of technology more in the coming months as the city gets set to implement its real time transit program.
The initiative will see technology installed that will track the numbers of people getting on and off the bus and also provide transit users with a real time option to track buses, giving them a better sense of when they need to be at their stop to catch the next bus.
The technology will also provide an option to purchase bus tickets online and pay via the virtual wallet in their Smartphone.
As the city moves forward with changes to the transit system, Bradshaw said there would be opportunity to make some tweaks based on what is learned as changes are implemented.
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